Greater Greater Washington

Hey reporters: There are good people you can call for stories about parking tickets in addition to just AAA

The city is full of cherry blossoms, and the media full of stories about parking tickets based on AAA Mid-Atlantic press releases. While eating up the juicy statistics AAA gets from FOIA requests, too many reporters also swallow AAA's policy conclusions and don't get other points of view.


Photo by John M on Flickr.

The latest example is a story this morning in the Washington Post about how DC's parking ticket revenue has decreased, thanks to new smartphone apps that help people park legally.

AAA's John Townsend II says the number of tickets in DC is "a phenomenal pace to nearly three times the city's estimated populace of 646,449 persons. That's three parking tickets for every man, woman and child in the city. It's the upshot of high demand for far too few spaces and the confusing signage that bedevils drivers."

Comparing the number of tickets to DC's population is misleading, since DC's daytime population is over one million. And over an entire year, far, far more people than 650,000 come to DC.

I don't really disagree that the signage is confusing and could be a lot better. (Just look at these signs, which a ticket writer even misinterpreted and wrote an erroneous ticket).


Townsend and I would agree this is really confusing. Photos from the 800 block of 17th Street, NW.

But is this "the upshot of ... far too few spaces?"

A lot of people would disagree with that. The District is simply never going to be the kind of city where parking is extremely plentiful and cheap downtown. Some American cities are. Those cities tend to have large swaths of desolate downtown streetscapes in districts that are empty a lot of the time. Those spaces drag down the economic strength of many cities' downtowns.

These "parking craters" can be so bad that that Streetsblog just ran a March Madness-style tournament to choose the worst downtown parking. DC is fortunate to have a thriving, mixed-use downtown without such gaping holes and a lot of transportation choices.

Some people drive and park. That's fine. But it's not physically possible to have a city with all of that activity and also enough space for everyone to bring a car which they park on the street or in a surface lot. This is simple geometry, since the cars are larger than the people. Underground parking isn't cheap, and many people get tickets because they don't want to shell out for the garage.

It's not so easy to capture this in a sound bite as "people are getting tickets! Lots of them, OMG! That's because we need more parking!" But it's more true.

I hate tickets, too

I'm not pro-tickets. I don't think the District should be counting on ticket revenue in its budget and am very happy that tickets are declining. It would be fantastic for technology to help people know how to park legally.

I got a ticket last year when I parked on the street around the corner from my house while we needed someone else to use our parking space. I came back a few days later and found that mere hours after I parked, a nearby building put up those "Emergency No Parking" signs for tree pruning, and the required 72 hours had elapsed. I was just about an hour too late to avoid not only getting a ticket but an extra fee for having my car towed one block away. Aargh!

It would have been terrific to have an app that could know my car location, check it against some open database of temporary and permanent parking restrictions, and notify me when my legal space is going to turn illegal. Maybe one day someone will build that.

Call these people!

Meanwhile, if reporters want to write a story about parking tickets, they should go ahead and cite AAA statistics all they want, but if they're also going to print John Townsend's opinion about how the District needs to revamp its built environment, how about also calling someone else?

Off the top of my head, there's:

  • Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Marlene Berlin of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council
  • Barbara McCann with the Complete Streets Coalition Correction: McCann has recently moved to US DOT, so she is probably not available for comment on AAA press releases.
  • Neha Bhatt with Smart Growth America
  • For anything about bicycling, Shane Farthing or Greg Billing at WABA
All would be great people to call for anything about parking or photo enforcement or to respond to pretty much any AAA press release, campaign, or gripe of the day.

I'd be happy to send any reporter these folks' phone numbers. Just drop me a line.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Yes, we are lucky we don't have large empty lots downtown full of parking. Another benefit of the height act!

And ignoring that the bulk of Mayor Gray's proposed budget is based on parkiing+traffic fines?

The bad signage -- which is designed to maximze revenue -- is also a symptomy for a larger problem. When you treat street parking as a revenue source for 30+ years you are not looking at maxixing it usage -- just in making sure the enforcement monster can be fed.

by charlie on Apr 10, 2014 2:22 pm • linkreport

I'm not pro-tickets.

Why not? Since when is support for enforcement of laws a position that can not be held?

I say ticket the living daylights out of law breakers. Whether it's faulty parking, not stopping for red lights or stop signs, failing to yield, not using blinkers when turning etc.

The only way to get roads safer is to make people who fail to follow the very reasonable rules pay.

Oh, and yes, parking signage is a mess. That can be done better.

by Jasper on Apr 10, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

@Jasper; what is amazing in DC is the number of people I've seen get out, look at the signs, and NOT CARE about the violation.

I've had to pay about $1500 in tickets over the years -- about 2-3 tickets a year in DC. I've had one ticket in Arlington and it was one of those that I never saw until 2 years later. Strongly suggests that we do have effective enforcement here.

But the number of people who budget 100 a month for tickets is simply astounding.

by charlie on Apr 10, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

Why not? Since when is support for enforcement of laws a position that can not be held?

Did he say he wasn't for enforcement? Tickets are just one piece of 'enforcement' overall.

Take San Francisco's parking experiments with dynamic, demand-responsive pricing. They saw meter revenue increase, but ticket revenue decrease. Why? Because it is a lot easier for people to follow the rules when we make it easy to do so. Easy payment, easy signage, available spaces.

Same thing is implied here, where ticket revenue has declined while pay-by-phone revenue is up. This implies that people are often willing to pay (they're not risking tickets to spite the system), but not always able to pay. Perhaps they don't have the loose change to plug an old meter; perhaps they didn't put enough time on the meter and needed to extend, but were too far from the car. Pay-by-phone can solve both problems.

The same logic applies to speed cameras, too. The language matters: being 'pro-enforcement' means the ideal is that no tickets are issued because no one is speeding. We shouldn't conflate 'pro-ticket' with 'pro-enforcement' for that reason.

by Alex B. on Apr 10, 2014 3:08 pm • linkreport

@Jasper--I think murderers should be jailed, but a better option would be for there to be fewer (or no!) murders to begin with. Same theory applies here--nothing wrong with enforcement, but ideally nobody would break parking laws and hence no tickets would be issued.

by Dan Miller on Apr 10, 2014 3:22 pm • linkreport

DC's parking app rocks.

by Crickey7 on Apr 10, 2014 4:20 pm • linkreport

The bad signage is to maximize profit? For what would be a what 15-30million dollar annual fines profit out of a total budget of billions.

Ah of course, the lucrative ticket department (eye roll). Don't be a conspiracy theorist. I have trouble understanding the signs too, if there is any possibility I am wrong, I don't risk it and park in a garage instead. Not a big deal. Hopefully the signage will be updated and also perhaps one day be a parking app that tells you whether you can park or not, but that stuff costs money and isn't really favoring city residents, it favors commuters and out of towners (so forgive the DC folks for not making it their highest priority).

by Navid Roshan on Apr 10, 2014 4:21 pm • linkreport

@charlie: The bad signage -- which is designed to maximze revenue . . .

That's sort of a sly matter-of-fact assumption slipped in there.

I'm not sure what you base that assumption on, given the variety of different possibilities: (a) various different people responsible for different aspects of signage/parking not being on the same page, (b) incompetence at sign placement and/or ticket writing, (c) lack of investing in a good sign design consultant to work on making them more coherent, or (d) yes, intentionally making it as confusing as possible to raise more cash from unsuspecting people.

Your assumption -- (d) from my list -- is really cynical, and, frankly, seems to me to be the least plausible from the list.

by Joey on Apr 10, 2014 4:27 pm • linkreport

The sign issue is due to the placement being a matter of gradual accretion of directives. There's no incentive to go back and make the signs in any given location consistent and rational.

by Crickey7 on Apr 10, 2014 4:44 pm • linkreport

Oh, so that's what the arrows do...oops. (Mods feel free to delete my two above blank comments). I can only shake my head at the continuing, seemingly unshakeable conspiracy theory that parking and traffic tickets are all about revenue, not safety or making parking spaces available, nosireebob!! LOL

by DaveG on Apr 10, 2014 5:02 pm • linkreport

Navid,

Try 83 million dollars last year, a far cry from 15-30 million. And even in a town where the local funds supporting the budget is 6.8 billion, 83 million ain't chump change.

by parkingguru on Apr 10, 2014 7:11 pm • linkreport

What's so confusing about those signs? They're pretty clear to me. The first two indicate the spaces are metered for a certain period of time, and within part of that period there is a 2 hour max. No parking during rush hour. All other times parking is free.

The last pic says you can't park or stand during rush hour, but from 9:30am-4:00pm you can stand if you need to discharge or collect passengers or whatever. Just don't leave your car unattended.

by dcmike on Apr 10, 2014 8:15 pm • linkreport

I can only shake my head at the continuing, seemingly unshakeable conspiracy theory that parking and traffic tickets are all about revenue, not safety or making parking spaces available, nosireebob!!

DaveG, I agree with you...but, DC does have policies in place that are meant to make parking and traffic tickets a form of revenue. That's a goal. So, it's a subtle distinction to say that it's not ALL about revenue when it is actually partly about revenue.

Now, one could argue that this is pigovian tax on unsafe behavior and bad parking and there would be some truth to it. But the optics are terrible. And it does create some perverse incentives - like heavily enforcing and fining behavior that isn't very dangerous but is easy to enforce via traffic camera.

If you were going to design a revenue neutral enforcement regimen with safety and parking as the primary goals, I think it would look a little different than what we have. This blog has even brought some of these issues up, like where the cameras go and how as enforcement goes up the fine should go down. I'm sympathetic to those who criticize the revenue aspect, though less so if they think they shouldn't have to be fined at all, and I hope that DC changes their policy to one that is ALL about safety and making parking spaces available, and not at all about revenue.

by David C on Apr 10, 2014 8:33 pm • linkreport

@parking guru, I believe you are incorrect because that is total fines assessed, you are forgetting to remove the cost to administratively handle and to enforce. IIRC this is closer to the 25M I cited.

by Navid Roshan on Apr 10, 2014 10:18 pm • linkreport

Replace the first two signs with "Pay to Park" signs, and put all the text on the meter.

The last one, replace the top sign with a "slash circle P", arrow right, and the bottom two with "tow away no parking 7am-6:30pm. M-F.

Or for the last one, get rid of the idea that people don't need parking during rush hour, or that building entrances somehow own the street too, and make the street one lane narrower. Then, it's "Pay to Park 7am-6:30pm M-F"

by Michael Perkins on Apr 11, 2014 8:10 am • linkreport

David C - I suppose general budget projections (with the right amount of wiggle room) could allow for expected ticket revenue for a given budget year, but it would have to be reviewed annually. As long as safety and parking availability remain paramount over ticket revenue. What policies are you talking about, specifically?

by DaveG on Apr 11, 2014 8:56 am • linkreport

If we all start using mass transit, biking, and walking (each of which I'm a very supportive participant)to get into DC, then yes, parking tickets will decrease. However, the City will simply start cracking down on other things like jaywalking, and various bicycle violations. City Hall will get it's money either way.

by Brendan on Apr 11, 2014 9:12 am • linkreport

I can read and interpret those signs ok. The one on the R is redundant, but I'm not confused as to when NOT to park there.

by Tina on Apr 11, 2014 9:16 am • linkreport

Brendan, as I'm sure you can infer from my above comments, I hope that revenue is not the top ticketing priority of any city or other jurisdiction, nor should it be.

by DaveG on Apr 11, 2014 9:22 am • linkreport

DC is more complacent about the signs because of the nearly $100M fines they bring in. Not exactly a conspiracy theory. Traffic and parking fines are a de-facto toll in DC because we don't have a congestion fee. $100M traffic tickets, $100M parking tickets = the toll we impose for road use. And most of the funds go to employ otherwise marginally-employable people (tho PG residents).

And they're often not high enough. What sense does it make in my neighborhood where parking is full at $30 in private lots nights and weekends for the ticket for parking illegally to be ......$30. We're just in effect charging people market rate to park wherever they want to.

Now if we can just get those potholes fixed so people can drive faster and we can get more speeding tickets!

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 11, 2014 9:22 am • linkreport

I think there are several things which could be done, not all of which are necessary. Though I recognize that most of these things deal with traffic tickets, not parking.

1. Decrease ticket fines to $5-$10 where automatic enforcement is in place. Possibly with escalating fines for repeat offenders.
2. Assign points (or partial points) for automatic traffic tickets
3. Institute a grace period from the time a violation is detected to the time the violator is notified, during which that person will only get warnings from that particular camera (first time offenders only).
4. Allow for traffic tickets to be waived/reduced if the violator takes a safe driving (or safe biking) class.
5. Have MPD write a report that lays out the justification of each camera (Why is it needed here and what are the goals? How will we know it is working?) with mandatory reviews to see if that camera is doing what we expect safety-wise, without regard to revenue.
6. Modify the parking app so that I start it when I park and turn it off when I leave, so that I don't have to estimate the time I need the space and run the risk of overstaying the spot.
7. David's idea of having the app tell one if they're parked illegally and/or warning them if their space is going to change to illegal soon.
8. Every year take the ticket profit, divide it among all DC taxpayers and send them a rebate check. This will reward good citizens and remove the idea that it's about money.

Parking is different. I suspect that most illegal parking is willful. And the 2nd largest cause is ignorance (that could be the result of bad signage). I don't even know what a third cause would be. The app should help with the 2nd. Only enforcement can deal with the 1st.

by David C on Apr 11, 2014 9:24 am • linkreport

I will add that in the case of camera enforcement, similar standards and judgment calls should be applied as when a live, human officer does it. For instance, if speeding tickets are not normally issued in person except for 10+ MPH over the limit, the same should happen for a speed camera. But anyone who blocks the box, especially a crosswalk, when stopping for a red light, should get a ticket. I've had people stop within the crosswalk as I attempt to cross with the light. Sometimes they will then back up if I ask nicely :-)

by DaveG on Apr 11, 2014 9:31 am • linkreport

" For instance, if speeding tickets are not normally issued in person except for 10+ MPH over the limit, the same should happen for a speed camera."

I don't see why. The reason, AFAICT, that police do not generally ticket for 5-10MPH over the limit, is that the stop (and the possible court appearance) are not worth their time. It is NOT because there is a legal right to drive 10MPH over the limit, nor because it is a safe thing to do (it can be an especial problem for cyclists and peds when drivers go 10MPH over the limit.) To me one of the principle benefits of speed cameras is enabling enforcement closer to the actual limit, without the buffer.

I suppose DC could keep the buffer and just lower the limits (so a 15MPH limit on a street where going over 25MPH is unsafe) Unfortunately here in Va where I live, our legislature in its infinite wisdom does not allow localities to set limits below 25MPH, so the 10MPH buffer effectively means no limits below 35MPH. Of course the legislature also effectively bans localities from using speed cameras.

These are some of the reasons people who value walking and cycling pay such premiums to live in the District, even with all its problems. Don't lose your comparative advantage.

by AWallkerInTheCity on Apr 11, 2014 9:39 am • linkreport

@ charlie:But the number of people who budget 100 a month for tickets is simply astounding.

Then parking tickets should increase with repeated violations, just like HOV violations.
First ticket: $50. Can happen.
Second: $100. Hey!
Third: $500. Stop it!
Fourth and further: $1000.
More than 10 tickets in a year: revoke driver's license.

@ Alex B:Did he say he wasn't for enforcement?

I think he said it to avoid standard criticism from the car lobby that childishly throws names at everybody who favors any kind of enforcement on cars.

Look, yes parking signs can be done better. Unfortunately, they are somehow designed and mandated by USDOT, and therefore local politicians can not change them. They could choose to not have the rules change every block, but unfortunately, Washingtonians (and people outside DC as well) tend to elect people who are too cowardly to do so.

There are all kinds of things the city can do to create less parking violations. There is also a very simple thing that drivers can do to avoid parking violations: do not park there! I can not stand the fact that when it comes to car related issues, suddenly individual responsibility does not apply, and it's always the fault of someone else. No, it is not. The driver got in his car, and decided that 'meh, traffic laws do not really apply to me - I am better than that'. Let me just park here in that rush-hour lane. Let me block that cross-walk. That's not really a red light, it was orange ... 5 seconds ago. Speed limit? No, I'm driving perfectly safe.

That attitude needs to change. Road design can help, but is expensive. Tickets are a necessary part.

@ David C:DC does have policies in place that are meant to make parking and traffic tickets a form of revenue.

So what? It's a great form of revenue, because it is easily avoidable. Would you rather have pay that revenue as through a tax increase?

by Jasper on Apr 11, 2014 9:57 am • linkreport

So what?

Asked and answered. It creates perverse incentives and it undermines support for enforcement.

Would you rather have pay that revenue as through a tax increase?

Well it wouldn't really be a tax increase. We'd be shifting our taxes from taxing bad driving to taxing something else. But yes, I'd rather tax something else.

by David C on Apr 11, 2014 10:09 am • linkreport

I usually don't agree with AAA. (In fact, the only reason I'm a member is their terrific break-down service.)

That said, DC should have a concerted effort to revamp and simplify its parking signs, They are confusing, contain exceptions within exceptions and sometimes flatly contradictory. A true story: I ran into a federal judge I know, shaking his head and trying to figure out if the signs permitted parking in a certain spot.

Overall, someone at DDOT should be put in charge of sign simplification and reduction. Our streets have so many signs compared with other cities' streets, that it is easy to become inured to them, My personal favorite is "No parking or standing any time" with "No parking snow emergency" signs next to them! There's the term "road diet" -- hey, DDOT, how about a "sign diet"?!

by Alf on Apr 11, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

I usually don't agree with AAA. (In fact, the only reason I'm a member is their terrific break-down service.)

That said, DC should have a concerted effort to revamp and simplify its parking signs, They are confusing, contain exceptions within exceptions and sometimes flatly contradictory. A true story: I ran into a federal judge I know, shaking his head and trying to figure out if the signs permitted parking in a certain spot.

Overall, someone at DDOT should be put in charge of sign simplification and reduction. Our streets have so many signs compared with other cities' streets, that it is easy to become inured to them, My personal favorite is "No parking or standing any time" with "No parking snow emergency" signs next to them! There's the term "road diet" -- hey, DDOT, how about a "sign diet"?!

by Alf on Apr 11, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

Overall, someone at DDOT should be put in charge of sign simplification and reduction.

This needs to happen, but people also need to realize that the problem isn't just with the signs: the underlying regulations are often confusing and contradictory, as well. They certainly are complex - making it difficult to communicate in a clear and concise manner on a sign.

by Alex B. on Apr 11, 2014 10:26 am • linkreport

@ David C:it undermines support for enforcement.

In the case of parking, red lights and speeding it is enforcement that undermines the support for enforcement. It does not matter how you turn it.

by Jasper on Apr 11, 2014 10:28 am • linkreport

Well I do know that Maryland's speed cameras in construction zones don't ticket except for 10+ over the limit. Does anyone know what happens with speed cameras in the District or elsewhere? Also, David C, under no circumstances should anyone get points from cameras, since the camera has no way of knowing whether the vehicle owner in question was driving or not.

by DaveG on Apr 11, 2014 10:29 am • linkreport

"This needs to happen, but people also need to realize that the problem isn't just with the signs: the underlying regulations are often confusing and contradictory, as well. They certainly are complex - making it difficult to communicate in a clear and concise manner on a sign."

Then DDOT needs to rewrite and simplify it's parking regs. If they can't figure it out, there have to be scores, if not hundreds of examples of clearer parking regs around the country. Rocket science, this is not.

by Alf on Apr 11, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

Rocket science, this is not.

Nobody is saying it is. However, realize that the complexity in the regulations isn't just the result of editing over time; it's often the feature of many elected officials that have made a change in X so they can please some constituent.

Each quirk in the rules adds complexity, but each quirk was also put there for a reason. I'm all for revamping the regulations, but people should realize that prioritizing simplicity above all else will mean that some of their favorite set-asides might fall by the wayside.

by Alex B. on Apr 11, 2014 11:13 am • linkreport

I will also point out that many of the "complex" rules about parking (rush hour restrictions, etc) are put in place for the benefit of drivers.

Parking signs like the green ones need to have an "other times" notification - if you can't park there at other times then it should be called out there, not somewhere down the block.

by MLD on Apr 11, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

I usually don't agree with AAA. (In fact, the only reason I'm a member is their terrific break-down service.)
Then stop giving them your money! Check with your auto insurer, who probably offers the same service for less. I have Progressive and pay $32/year for the following (from my policy contract):

Roadside Assistance coverage covers labor costs incurred at the place where your vehicle becomes disabled as a result of a mechanical/electrical breakdown, dead battery, flat tire, and/or lock-out. We will also help if you run out of gas or other fluid or become stuck in snow or mud within 100 feet of a road or highway. And, if necessary, Roadside Assistance will cover towing to the nearest qualified repair facility

by dcmike on Apr 11, 2014 11:21 am • linkreport

@ dcmike:Then stop giving them your money! Check with your auto insurer, who probably offers the same service for less.

I actually did that. Then I had an issue, and GEICO had me waiting on the phone for 45 minutes before I gave up. I sent a complaint. They replied with a form letter and did not take the trouble to [FILL IN NAME HERE] replace the generic [ISSUE] field in the letter with my name and issue. They also admitted they were overwhelmed because it was snowing that day. I told them I knew it was winter.

I hate being back at AAA, but at least they show up when you need them.

by Jasper on Apr 11, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport

Aside from the rigorousness of parking enforcement, there's a principle which I should think GGW folks would agree with, namely that the recipient of a parking citation ought to be informed as to exactly what DC regulation he is charged with having violated.

Check any parking ticket, and, aside from simple things like expired meters, most likely the ticket simply specifies P055, "no parking anytime". Why not? What's the actual DCMR paragraph applicable? Who knows?

P055 corresponds, in fact, to 18 DCMR § 4019.1 You can look it up: that prohibits parking on certain blocks of Woodley Road NW, Okie Street NE, and Branch Avenue SE. That's it.

So the answer is no, you cannot know what DC regulation you are charged with having violated, not if your ticket specifies simply "P055". That's the all-time favorite of both Parking Enforcement and MPD officers, because it does not require them to figure out exactly what the violation is. "P055 No Parking Anytime" covers it all.

by Jack on Apr 11, 2014 12:24 pm • linkreport

it is enforcement that undermines the support for enforcement.

Sure, but enforcement for the purpose of raising revenue undermines it more than enforcement for the purpose of making people safer. Look at all the people who think that DC designs confusing signs for the purpose of maximizing revenue. That's a byproduct of taxing illegal parking.

by David C on Apr 11, 2014 1:06 pm • linkreport

under no circumstances should anyone get points from cameras, since the camera has no way of knowing whether the vehicle owner in question was driving or not.

Well then we shouldn't fine anyone either, since we have no way of knowing whether the vehicle owner in question was driving or not.

by David C on Apr 11, 2014 1:07 pm • linkreport

BTW, Arizona, Nevada and the Virgin Islands currently assess points based on traffic cameras. So it's not like it's some constitutional violation.

by David C on Apr 11, 2014 1:11 pm • linkreport

"Well then we shouldn't fine anyone either, since we have no way of knowing whether the vehicle owner in question was driving or not."

The owner can ask the person who drove (assuming the vehicle was not stolen) to pay him the cost of the fine. License points, however, are not transferable. Totally different issue.

Not sure how they handle that issue in Az, Nv, and VI

by AWallkerInTheCity on Apr 11, 2014 1:25 pm • linkreport

All objectons cane be met or eased by more paring places. We are going in the wrong directions. The new zoning proposals which GGW applauds reduce parking. Also the bike lanes on L Street and other places eliminate vital parking spots. Get rid of them please

by bunky on Apr 11, 2014 2:03 pm • linkreport

@ David C:Look at all the people who think that DC designs confusing signs for the purpose of maximizing revenue.

But that is factually not true. The fact is that the parking sign design is federally mandated. There is not much that DC can do about it.

I feel little sympathy for people who base their opinions on incorrect assumptions.

the purpose of making people safer

Parking enforcement is about safety?
Then why get church-goers free pass?

by Jasper on Apr 11, 2014 2:19 pm • linkreport

I feel little sympathy for people who base their opinions on incorrect assumptions.

Me neither. But this is about politics and political capital. I don't want to put enforcement at political risk, by using it to collect revenue. And this is only one of my concerns, so even if it were removed, I'd still oppose using traffic enforcement to raise revenue.

Parking enforcement is about safety?

In some cases, yes. Like parking too close to an intersection or in a bike lane or next to a fire hydrant or in front of a cross walk, etc...

by David C on Apr 11, 2014 2:25 pm • linkreport

Very few people actually lose their license from accumulated points. The main impact of points is liability insurance.

If your car is repeatedly photographed speeding or running red lights, then your insurance should go up whether you were driving the car or not.

by JimT on Apr 11, 2014 4:13 pm • linkreport

Why should your insurance go up just because some of your friends, family, etc. are bad drivers? Points are assessed against drivers, not vehicles.

by DaveG on Apr 11, 2014 4:25 pm • linkreport

Your liability insurance should be more costly if you let morons drive your car.

by MLD on Apr 11, 2014 4:38 pm • linkreport

So are fines.

Here's how it works in Arizona:

As the owner you must complete and return the Declaration of Non-Driver form within 30 days of the mailed date. You
must provide a clear copy of your driver license or government-issued photo
identification for the police to review. You may also provide the name and address of the
actual driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation. If the information is
approved by the reviewing police officer, the Police will request that the original
complaint be dismissed and a new complaint will be issued to the actual driver.
If the car had been reported stolen at the time of the violation, you must submit a copy of
the filed police report with a signed Declaration of Non-Driver form and a copy of your
driver license or government-issued photo identification.

by David C on Apr 11, 2014 4:43 pm • linkreport

Again, it seems only reasonable that, if one is ticketed for a parking violation, one ought to be able to find out exactly what DC parking regulation is supposed to have been violated. But try to find the document that correlates those three-digit P codes with DCMR regulations. This is especially important if one chooses to challenge the citation. Only with the actual text of the regulation in hand, can one confidently do so.

As an example of the inability of Parking Enforcement to specify the parking laws themselves, I have a ticket with the infamous, do-everything P055 code marked. The correct code was P013, not P055, and the correct fine was $20, not the $30 my ticketed neighbor was being charged. But Joe Citizen, with nothing to explain these P-codes and corresponding DCMR regulations, is pretty much helpless to contest such a ticket.

It's worthy of Kafka: you may get a ticket, and be fined, but you won't be told specifically what parking law you have broken. Even the ticketing officers can't get that right.

by Jack on Apr 11, 2014 7:14 pm • linkreport

DC needs a sign czar. One person with total authority to remove, replace, reword, move, or pretty much do whatever is needed to signs on the streets.

The goals should be:

1. Accuracy (I successfully fought a ticket because the sign had not yet been updated to reflect longer meter hours)
2. Clarity
3. Brevity
4. Consolidation of information onto one sign if possible

This doesn't just go for parking signs, it also applies to directional signs. For example, the tangle of signs around Washington Hospital Center directing you all over the place to try and actually find one of the hospitals, or the sign for the Frederick Douglas bridge on M St SW that has you travel north (away from the bridge) along Half St SW past the inspection station and then? Well there are no more signs actually indicating how to get from there to the actual bridge (or why you wouldn't just have taken M St to South Capitol to the bridge.

Or my new favorite, the sign off 295 North for Pennsylvania Avenue East which is labeled as "Andrews AFB." Well sure, I suppose if you go far enough east, but is that really the best location to place on that sign? Why not put "FedEx Field" on signs for East Capitol Street?

Then, we can get into consistency. Like the signs in the 395 tunnel that direct you "US Senate" and "The House."

by dcer562 on Apr 11, 2014 7:33 pm • linkreport

Detroit goes for parking revenue, not properly incentivizing parking turnover in dense areas (yes, there are some in Detroit):

http://www.freep.com/article/20140410/COL43/304100166/detroit-parking-meters-rates-downtown-midtown-kevyn-orr-bankruptcy

by DaveG on Apr 15, 2014 3:05 pm • linkreport

I agree the Post story is thin but not exactly for the same reason as Alpert.

The AAA's claim that "fewer reports of broken parking meters and more drivers going coin-less" is just theory, which the Post is presenting as unchallenged fact. It's an interesting hypothesis. The decline may also be due to something like fewer enforcement personnel on the street. The department may have had several vacancies, extended leaves, etc.

It was surprising not to see any District response in the story.

As far the claim that a high number of tickets are being issued, Alpert is right. There is no comparable benchmark for perspective.

I hope the Post follows up, because AAA's claims need analysis.

by kob on Apr 15, 2014 4:50 pm • linkreport

From the Detroit Free Press story...pay special attention to the first paragraph I quoted:

'In a well-designed and managed parking system, fees and fines are the means to an end, a way to incentivize turnover in dense areas.

'In Detroit, parking exists largely in isolation, disconnected from the planning process. And that’s a problem. The city’s municipal parking system should complement its planning and development process, and should be a part of a comprehensive strategy that includes surface lots and parking decks downtown and sets smart guidelines for metered parking in downtown and Midtown.

'The ticket hike is a move by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, recommended by consultants who noted that Detroit parking rates are lower than rates in other large cities.

'Once again, they’re missing the point.

'Historically, parking has been viewed as a revenue generator, said Sue Mosey, president of Midtown Detroit Inc. But that’s the wrong approach: “It’s not just a business development service, but seeing how it ties to your economic agenda.”

'In Detroit, where parking meters are often poorly maintained and enforcement is whip-fast, higher-cost tickets are a perfect storm for an unpleasant visit to the city, Mosey said.'

by DaveG on Apr 16, 2014 8:26 am • linkreport

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